Even if you've never been arrested before, you've probably heard a thing or two about the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, if you didn't hear it from a lawyer, there's a good chance that it's wrong, and following that advice can hurt your case. Here's what you should watch out for.
Thinking the Police Have to Tell You They're Police
This comes up frequently in prostitution or drug stings. People think that if you ask an undercover officer if they're a police officer, they have to tell you the truth. Undercover officers are allowed to lie as part of their operations, so them telling you no if you asked if they were police is not a get out of jail free card. Your criminal defense attorney may still be able to help you explore other defenses, like entrapment, but the police don't have to tell you they're police.
Using Your Miranda Rights as a Way to Invalidate Your Arrest
While the police will almost always read you your Miranda rights, they don't have to. Miranda rights are about if the police can question you and use what you say against you in court. Miranda rights do not affect whether the police can arrest you or the validity of the charges against you. The only thing that the police not reading your rights changes is that they may not be able to make their case if they can't use your confession.
Believing Misdemeanors Always Max Out at One Year in Jail
When most people describe a felony versus a misdemeanor, they'll often say that a misdemeanor comes with up to one year in jail and a felony can come with prison time longer than a year. That's mostly true, but not absolute. If you commit a crime or series of crimes that results in multiple misdemeanor charges, the sentences can add up to more than one year in jail. Some states even have misdemeanors that have longer sentences for a single charge.
Expecting Probation for a First Offense
Even though many low-level offenses, especially for first-time offenders, result in probation, there are no guarantees. Probation versus jail or prison is almost entirely at the discretion of the judge. If the judge is harsh on a particular crime or doesn't believe probation will help you, they do not have to sentence you to probation even for a first offense.
To learn more about the right way to approach your case, talk to a local criminal defense attorney.
When you are faced with a serious legal matter, it only makes sense to work with an attorney who has the skillset to help. Attorneys are specially trained to manage everything from courtroom appearances to issues with paperwork, which is why you should have one on hand for when you are faced with an emergency. The purpose of this blog is to make it easier to understand when you should call a lawyer and how they can help. Read more on this blog to sort out everything you need to know to improve your legal prowess every single day, preventing problems.